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Merchant navy officer: Training

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During the initial officer training programme, a Merchant Navy officer is required to gain a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Certificate of Competency (CoC) as an Officer of the Watch (OOW).

Additional skills and experience will be gained while on the job, under the supervision of more senior officers.

The Merchant Navy provides clear training routes to enable progression from the junior level OOW to more senior levels. The next MCA level of competency is recognised through the award of the chief mate or second engineer certificate. The highest level of competency is master's or chief engineer's certificate.

Progression to each rank within the Merchant Navy also allows individuals to gain nationally-recognised academic or vocational qualifications, in addition to the MCA certificates of competency.

Colleges, universities and specialist training organisations provide training courses for serving Merchant Navy officers in areas such as safety legislation. Sponsorship may be available through shipping companies or through maritime training organisations.

The Marine Society also offers a range of courses enabling you to continue your education while working. For example, they provide a distance learning route, which enables you to top up your HND or foundation degree into a Bachelors degree, or for more senior officers with a Class 1 Certificate of Competency, to top up to a Masters degree.

Membership of a relevant professional body, for example the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) or The Nautical Institute , is useful in terms of training, networking and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities. Some sponsoring companies will provide student membership of these bodies.


Further information


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Written by AGCAS editors
September 2015

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